Arts & Culture \ Galeri Creative Enterprise Centre, Caernarfon, North Wales

The Galeri Creative Enterprise Centre in Caernarfon is a project which has arisen from the resurgence of this area of North Wales in the creative industries, together with a perception of a need for a contemporary, flexible and medium sized performance space in the town. The building is effectively a hybrid between theatre / rehearsal spaces and small office spaces aimed at young creative companies. The essence of the idea is that whilst theatres generally spring to life in the evenings, the office side of the building is a daytime activity, and that putting these two functions together, both of which involve creative people, will ensure a building that has an intensity of use all day and evening. At the heart of the building must be the idea of communication between those working in the building, both amongst themselves and between themselves and visitors. There could be a great deal of communication between members of the public and the activities of the various offices.

The diagram of the building, inspired by its location on the dock, is to make a warehouse-like construction of three parallel sheds, an inner shed containing the large volumes, requiring large span structures, flanked on either side by small or more domestic scaled structural sheds of individual rooms. The inner shed, which has theatre at its east end and rehearsal rooms at its west end, then contains within it a large atrium foyer space within which is found all the circulation. The objective of the design has been to attempt to ensure that as many office spaces as possible on the first and second floors give directly onto walkways in this atrium space so that their activities and their presence is visible from everybody entering the building. The idea of this space is further strengthened with the presence of both theatre on one side and the rehearsal room on the other side as curved objects inserted into the warehouse shape of the building.

The exterior of the building is largely formed of a steel frame and green oak boarding. This forms a natural weathered grey patina over the years and acts as a rain screen to the building. External walkways are formed of galvanised steel, with perforated lightweight metal decks, with the exterior wall adjacent to the entrance formed of board-marked concrete. Windows are generally aluminium or steel. The interior of the building is filled with colour as a contrast to the relatively monochrome exterior.

Construction of the project was completed in January 2005.

Our continuing good relationship with the Galeri has brought us back to the project on two occasions now to assist in their efforts to sustain that economic impact and extend and alter the buildings facilities to keep pace with changing demand. Previously we extended and modified the theatre space to provide facilities for performers and additional backstage functionality. Latterly, following an ACW funded feasibility study in 2014, our latest project separates the cinema function from the existing main auditorium space and provides 2 dedicated film theatres within a new extension building. In doing so, the main theatre no longer requires constant adaption and reconfiguration to cinema mode whilst the two new smaller auditoria are also capable of small scale lecture and performance uses.
Connecting through to the existing building circulation on all three levels, the form of the extension also continues the warehouse like appearance of the existing centre with a series of parallel, pitched roof volumes separated by a rectilinear plantroom. Locating the cinemas on first floor allows the ground floor to provide a new entrance and double height foyer space that addresses the three-sided external courtyard formed between the Galeri, the cinema extension and the historic Goleuad dockside building. Materially, the extension is clad in a robust, standing seam zinc sheet to the walls and roof, emphasising the volumes of the cinemas spaces within, with large areas of glazing to the gabled courtyard elevation and ground floor.  The extension was completed August 2018.

Details of the  extension can be seen at the end of the thumbnail images.

Architects Richard Murphy, James Mason, Chris Rogers, Tim Bayman, Fiona Henderson, Chris Rhodes, Adrian Welch, John Walker
Project Manager Doig Hart Consultants
Engineers Veryards Ltd
M&E Engineers Buro Happold
Quantity Surveyor Wakemans
Acoustic Engineers Sandy Brown Associates
Auditorium Seating Parris Interiors
Contractor Watkin Jones Construction
Construction Cost £6.4m
Client Cwmni Tref Caernarfon

For the extension:

Architects Richard Murphy, James Mason, Martin Lambie, Iain Masterman, James Cockburn
Project Manager CPC
Engineers Create Engineering
M&E Engineers Hulley & Kirkwood
Quantity Surveyor CPC 
Acoustic Engineers Sandy Brown Associates
Construction Cost £3.3 million
Client Galeri Carnarforn


2005 RIBA Award
2006 Roses Award Best Public Building Bronze Award
2006 Scottish Design Award - Architectural Grand Prix
2006 Scottish Design Award - Best Building for Public Use
2019 RSAW Award
2019 RIBA Award


November 2015 Plans for dedicated two-screen cinema in Caernarfon, screening 'latest releases' North Wales Chronicle
12 November 2015 New two-screen cinema to be built at Galeri Caernarfon site Daily Post North Wales
Apr 2010 Award Winning Architecture Design Of Caernarfon Theatre And Arts Centre By Richard Murphy Architects Home And House Design - Architecture & Interior
30 May 2006 Top Awards For Architect Who Changed Face Of Design The Scotsman
31 March 2005 Mellow Drama Architects' Journal
2005 Creative Enterprise Centre, Caernarfon RIBA Sport And Leisure Sector Review
January 2005 Centre Of Excellence Daily Post
3 February 2000 Murphy Whows Enterprise And Wins Arts Centre In Wales Architects' Journal
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